As we begin the final countdown to this year’s Future of Music Policy Summit, as one of maybe four people who have been at each and every event, I wanted to highlight some of the reasons why you should join us next Monday and Tuesday at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Register here!
This will be my fourteenth Policy Summit. Peter Jenner––a longtime friend and attendee of many a Summit––reminded me the other day of seeing my son at Policy Summit #2 when he was just 4 months old. Now he’s in 6th grade. It’s amazing to think of all of the changes that have occured in the music industry landscape in that time span. Sheesh, the iTunes Music Store wasn’t even off the ground when we began! FMC has witnessed the ascencion (and decline) of many a bright idea or a business plan. We’ve also organized dozens of panels over the years that have led to meaningful debates about the policies that affect musicians’ ability to create, communicate, and be compensated for their work.
Despite the never-ending changes in the landscape itself, FMC’s Summits remain committed to four ideals:
Musicians must be stakeholders. For many decades, musicians were spoken about in policy circles. Very rarely did they directly participate in the policymaking process. FMC was founded at a moment when we realized that musicians and their advocates needed to be present in these conversations to provide some real-world feedback about the impact of technogical changes on their ability to operate as creators. That’s why we continue to invite working musicians of all types—rockers, jazz bandleaders, session players, classical freelancers, composers—and their advocates to be part of the conversations, often sharing the stage with policymakers, industry officials, technologists and attorneys. This Policy Summit’s list of speakers and programming stays true to the notion that musicians’ voices matter.
Diverse opinions generate the most productive solutions. The overlaps of copyright and technology, and similarly of commerce and art, often create very divergent opinions, each with their passionate representatives and business interests. We have always recognized that the solutions to thorny problems are not going to come from the extremes; they are going to come from the middle. And how we get to the middle is by inviting voices from all across the spectrum to participate in panels and keynotes. We’ve seen our fair share of shouting matches or dagger-eyed staredowns on panels over the years, but these moments are the precursor to both more accountability and transparency, as well as a more nuanced understanding of the issues at hand. Echo chamber conversations are not productive. We need diversity to find common ground.
This event is not just for the Beltway elite. We know that organizing a quality event takes a lot of time, and it costs a lot of money. But we have also offered sliding scale musician scholarships and student pricing every year to ensure that cost is not a barrier to musicians’ participation. We have a handful of musician scholarships left for 2014.
This event is not just about wonky policy stuff. As much as we enjoy writing footnote-filled filings, or hashing over the idiosynracies of copyright policy, Summit discussions are not just for policy wonks. We want the Summit to be illuminating, practical, and instructive for musicians. This year’s programming is full of these opportunities, whether it’s the panel discussions about activism and art, demos about emerging technologies, or our lunchtime workshops about musicians and metadata. We want attendees to walk away with tangible ideas that they can use in their everyday life. Check out the schedule to learn more. And register today.
I’ll see you at the Pho dinner!
2002 Future of Music Policy Summit. Photo by Maria Tessa Sciarrino.